‘Modest’ rise to add £5 to average Chichester council tax bill

Tony Dignum, leader of Chichester District Council, said: 'As in the past seven years, we maintained our services without front-line�cuts."
Tony Dignum, leader of Chichester District Council, said: 'As in the past seven years, we maintained our services without front-line�cuts."

Plans to raise council tax by £5 a year would generate an extra £266,700 for Chichester District Council, its cabinet has been told.

Leader Tony Dignum (Con, Chichester North) described the proposed rise, which equates to 3.2 per cent or 10p per week, as ‘modest’.

The change will see the district council’s portion of Band D bills rise from £155.81 to £160.81.

Elsewhere in the county, Horsham has proposed a rise of £3.93 a year while Crawley’s is expected to be just under a fiver.

Like every council in the country, Chichester is faced with a number of uncertainties over the coming year.

The government has yet to announce how much each authority will receive after its Fair Funding Review is complete and, of course, uncertainties over how Brexit will affect the economy continue to loom large.

During a cabinet meeting at East Pallant House on Tuesday, members were told the extra council tax money would help to balance the budget without having to resort to dipping into the reserves.

Those reserves were increased from £5m to £6.3m last year and members agreed to leave them like that while questions over Brexit remained.

Mr Dignum said the money would help the council to deal with ‘external shocks’, asking: “Who knows what will happen after March 29? You’ll be a better man or woman than me if you know.”

The overall budget requirements for 2019/20 were set at £13.8m – a rise of £800,000 on the previous year.

Mr Dignum said: “I think this is an excellent budget. It’s been balanced without recourse to drawing on our reserves.

“It’s funded completely out of current expenditure. It’s a modest increase, equivalent to 10p a week or £5 and our sister authorities have had to raise their council tax considerably more, police by £24 and the county by around £60.

“As in the past seven years, we maintained our services without front-line cuts. You’ll also be pleased to know there is no increase in car park charges from April.”

He added: “All this has been achieved without a penny of borrowing.”

The budget will be put before a meeting of the full council in March for final approval.